It's hard to have a conversation about either river surfing, or whitewater SUP, without the name Badfish Stand Up Paddle entering the conversation. They are the true pioneers of this ever evolving sport, and are leading the charge in a rapidly growing niche. We met up with Badfish co-owner Mike Harvey and got the low down on all things new and exciting for 2016. After-all, their HQ is about a mile from my office, and I needed an excuse to drool on some carbon Innegra and get pumped for surf season...here's what I learned:
A glimpse inside of The Badfish SUP world headquarters.
Badfish SUP is a brand that is always trying to improve upon existing designs, and for lack of a better phrase, "make things better". This year they changed to a new production facility that better understands their goals. Being a river and mountain based company in the surf industry can be difficult. Besides being the only one of it's kind, the demands placed on a board on a daily basis are much different (i.e - there are more rocks in the river, as compared to the ocean).
Two changes for 2016, that will affect the performance of Badfish boards (in a positive way) are 1.) moving to a lighter weight EPS foam core, and 2.) refining the carbon Innegra, and fiberglass Innegra layups.
The EPS foam blanks used for 2016 will be lighter than the ones used in previous years. Because of this, the boards will have a snappier, and quicker feel.
Innegra is a polymer based laminate that is more resilient than traditional fiberglass, and is replacing Kevlar in many composite applications where impact resistance is valued. Boardworks traveled down to the Innegra facility in South Carolina to refine the Innegra layup process, and get the glass:Innegra ratio just right, and then worked with Badfish to develop a layup that balanced weight with durability.
This years fiberglass Innegra designs (MVP 7'6" and MVP 9') will utilize 4 laminates (fiberglass on the exterior, then a mix of Innegra and fiberglass, a layer of Innegra, and then another layer of glass). The concept behind this is that you can ding the fiberglass exterior, but have an Innegra layer(s) below it that offer much more impact resistance than plain old fiberglass and epoxy.
The 2016 carbon Innegra offerings (Cobra 6'6", River Surfer 6'11" and Hole Shot 11') will also have 4 layers (glass-->carbon-->Innegra-->glass). The carbon fiber weave is lighter than the fiberglass, resulting in a much lighter board than previous years. More on that below...
Close up of the carbon Innegra weave that will be used on the Cobra 6'6", River Surfer 6'11" and Hole Shot 11'.
The Badfish Stand Up Paddle MVP-S 7' 6" is the gateway drug of choice, into the highly addictive world of river surfing. It's been available for a few years now, and is a staple in the quiver of many. It offers plenty of both primary and secondary stability (it has a hull on it, as compared to an edgy rail like most surf board style SUP's do), is the best "learning to river surf" board ever made, and will paddle downriver pretty well too. The MVP-S 7'6" can be compared to a downriver play boat. You can paddle your way down class II and III rivers, and look for surf along the way.
For 2016, the Badfish Stand Up Paddle MVP get's a little more sophistication. The deck bungee was removed, giving it a cleaner look, and the fiberglass Innegra exterior looks much more polished than in years past. It's a little bit lighter, but retains the exact same shape. Expect this board to surf and paddle just like it did before, but with a little bit more spring in it's step.
River Surfer 6'11"
This is the board that started it all. The Badfish River Surfer 6'11" is regarded as the highest performing, and best river surfing board ever built. It'll carve glassy waves as well as steep ones, spin, ollie, grind and leave you with a buzz hours after getting off the wave. The exiting news for 2016 is that the 6'11" RS will be available in carbon Innegra, and weigh in around 20 lbs. It has FCS Fusion fin boxes (tri fin).
In previous years, the only way to get your feet on a sub 20 lb Badfish, was by getting a limited production custom (hand made in Salida, CO by Zack hughes) board. Now, everyone can have the performance that comes along with the lighter weight. Cutbacks are snappier, carving happens quicker, spins are quicker (and therefore easier)....
The Cobra 6'6" on the left is slightly shorter and a little but wider than the River Surfer 6'11". It is also a little bit less edgy.
The Badfish Stand Up Paddle Cobra 6'6" is the newcomer to the river surf lineup. It's a hybrid of the MVP-S 7'6" and River Surfer 6'11". For all intents and purposes, it's a slightly dumbed down River Surfer that is more stable, not quite as edgy, and also looser (because it is wider) on a wave (it's a total 360 machine if you like that sort of thing). With a significant amount of nose rocker, and 5" less length than the River Surfer, the Cobra 6'6" is right at home on smaller river features, which is what most of us spend our time surfing on. Other cool things about the cobra are that it's fun to ollie because it is only 6'6", and it's the best board on the market for learning 360's - she's loose as a goose.
For 2016 the Cobra will be available in carbon Innegra. It'll be available with FCS Fusion tri fins, and will weigh in right around 20 lbs...
MVP 9' and 9' Slim
The MVP 9' design remains unchanged for 2016. It'll be offered in fiberglass Innergra, which will add to the durability and drop a few pounds. If you're looking for a good big water / downriver hard board, the MVP 9 is a beast. Its stable, fast, and surfs awesome for a nine footer that has a planing hull with soft chines.
The MVP9' Slim is a lower volume version of the 9' MVP. If you're less than 170 lbs, or like an especially nimble board, this is your weapon.
IRS 7'2" - Inflatable River Surfer
The Badfish Stand Up Paddle IRS 7'2" is another fairly recent design from Badfish. At 7'2" it doubles as both a youth / light weight paddler downriver board, as well as a river surfer. Take note guys (and heavier paddlers), you can buy this board for kids and women, but also add one more killer board to your own quiver at the exact same time...and all for under $1000 (MSRP $948).
This board was released in the summer of 2015. It remains mostly unchanged, except for the addition of flexi permanent fins (as opposed to stiff ones found on last years design). Show up, blow up and rip it...and repeat.
Hole Shot 11' x 32" x 6" iSUP
The Badfish Stand Up Paddle Hole Shot inflatable SUPis new for 2016 as well. It's a quiver killer for the stand up paddler that does a little bit of everything. It'll get you a top 3 finish at your local downriver race, it'll pack up nicely and travel to far and away places, it crushes class II and III whitewater, and can surf in the ocean and river (if the wave is flat enough). Last, because of the 11' x 32" frame, the Hole Shot is a great choice for flatwater paddlers who want a fitness / recreational SUP. Wait, I think I just sold myself on this board...for real, I think I want one!
Hole Shot 11' x 30" Carbon Innegra
The composite Hole Shot has a different shape than it's inflatable brother. It's 30" wide (as opposed to 32"), and is built for speed. It's got an 11' racing / performance touring design, and constructed of carbon Innegra. Take this board to the lake and go paddle 10 miles with ease, or bring it to the GoPro Games in Vail and win the downriver race...this thing's the real deal.